In legend, vampires cruise the cities at night hunting victims, preferably someone sexy, whom they can bite on the neck for a bloody meal.
In reality, vampire bats do drink blood, but prefer a fat ungulate over a slim sexy human. Cattle are lazy fat ungulates that can be quite abundant, and are a favorite food of the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) throughout their range in the new world tropics. Vampire bats are fairly easy to see and study around cattle fields, here are two pictures I took of vampire bats, the one on the left is in the process of feeding on a cow in Costa Rica.
However, feeding on an active animal is more difficult than a sleeping cow. Vampire bats are one of the most agile bats, amazingly good at moving around on the ground. One of our camera traps under a fruiting tree recently captured a tapir coming in for dinner, followed by a vampire bat, coming in for dinner. You can see the bat darting in and out to drink from a cut on the tapir’s foot and then jumping back out of the way to avoid getting stepped on. The tapir seems oblivious to the bat.
This bat puts on a good show, and this is a pretty special video. Indeed, Dr. Bill Schutt, vampire bat expert and author of Dark Banquet said “Most videos of vampire bats feeding show the bats attacking stationary prey (like sleeping cows). This segment is quite unique since the imperiled tapir is clearly a moving target. Great stuff!”